More animals being animals
The first group shot past me like I was just another tree. Two or three dozen birds, fast and black, red-breasted, whipping past me on high-speed, swooping paths. I turned to watch them go. They divebombed down into a woody gorge. I turned back and there was another wave coming fast. One bird almost touched my cheek.
It was a rare dry afternoon this week in a spell of rain. I hadn’t been on a trail in what felt like weeks. Griffith Park in Los Angeles occupies the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains. Among city parks, there’s no real comparison to it in the United States. It’s massive, more than four-thousand acres. The highest peak is just shy of two-thousand feet. Coyotes abound, also hawks. At night, tarantulas appear on the trails like small hands. There’s a zoo, a museum, the Observatory, the Hollywood sign, plus four golf courses, three tennis complexes, and several places to rent a horse. And then a surfeit of trails, many of which are popular all day long, though some are neglected and jungly, seemingly unbothered for decades.
Living nearby, a favorite walk is a ridge trail on the north side with big views. Tuesday, middle of the afternoon, I had it all to myself. I clomped along, listening to a podcast. I stopped at a high point to remove my headphones and enjoy the sun, just look around. Then the birds appeared, black dots in the distance. Seconds later, they lashed past me at arm’s length. Then more birds, then more birds. As though I was standing in a migration path, a migration air tunnel, is that a thing?
In fifteen minutes, I would guess there were several hundred – birds like black seams in a gray dress, birds like rolling fog. I told myself I’d leave once they finished, and then every few minutes, just as I was about to go, another couple dozen flew through.
What was I to them? I honestly felt engulfed, I couldn’t stop smiling. I wanted another person to arrive so I could show them. I watched one bird stop in a tree and chirp a little, then alight again and keep going to whatever came next.
In tomorrow’s Sunday supplement:
The how-to writing book I’m consulting lately
Some great 2022 jazz albums, including albums for people who don’t like jazz, recent or otherwise
A favorite new piece of travel gear
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What the what
Meditations in an Emergency is a weekly short essay about something beautiful from author Rosecrans Baldwin. Supporters receive a Sunday supplement with three-plus ideas of things to love, plus a longer piece once a month written in the woods ⛰️